New Products Grow Smaller, Thinner in 2009

Geekdom’s universal center of gravity shifts decidedly westward this week, with the Apple-oriented members of the tribe convening in San Francisco tomorrow for Macworld 2009 and the PC clan set to begin drumming up interest in new technology at CES in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Perhaps with a nod to lean economic times on the horizon (or maybe it’s a poorly forced analogy – you decide), small and thin seem to be the watchwords for the immediate future in both camps. Apple, a company that thrives on rumor and hype (while almost always delivering well-made products that meet or beat all hyped expectations), is widely expected to introduce a nano version of its popular iPhone at Macworld, and to update its Mac mini desktop computer with a new NVIDIA chipset, a swappable SATA optical drive, and dual display support.

Follow me after the jump for a preview of a couple of the slimmest contenders people will be ooing and aahing over later in the week at CES.

Samsung Korea has announced it will unveil the “Thinnest HDTV” ever at CES this week. There’s not much info about it as of now – Samsung’s Vegas press conference is scheduled for Wednesday – but it’s going to be between 6.5 and 7mm thick — and it doesn’t appear to be part of the possible lineup leaked a while back.

While Samsung’s latest may be slightly narrower, JVC swears its CES prototype will be the lightest 32-inch LCD out, weighing a mere 5kg. Perfect for ceiling mounted installations at that weight, the 7mm thick display manages to squeeze 1080p resolution and LED backlighting out of half the materials and less mercury than is used to produce current designs.

It’s interesting that both Samsung and JVC will be floating prototypes at CES, with firm production commitments depending, we suppose, on their reception in Vegas and on signs demand for the new technology can be supported by the currently shrinking world economy.